By Anne T. Donahue
This week, with my hair big and my spirits low, I did what I didn’t foresee when desperate for sun and warmth in February: I gave up. My style? My sense of purpose? My desire to look remotely together and/or like I’m “doing okay”? Over. The earth is on fire and I’ve started watching autumnal TikToks in a desperate attempt to feel a sense of peace.
I’ve had a longstanding love/hate relationship with summer. Some years I’ve revelled in it, others I’ve condemned and avoided it, and last year I tried to lean in with a haphazard attempt at gardening. (I put everything in pots and hoped for the best.) This year, I was certain, I would eclipse my former attempts at being a Summer Person. I bought new shorts. I bought new t-shirts. I began taking allergy medicine that I convinced myself was working. And then, after weeks of denial and forcing myself into a brand of optimism I’ve long left behind, I gave up. I put my hair in a bun, I wore the largest t-shirt I owned, and I paired it with Crocs and pajama shorts. (And then I went to an appointment at the bank.)
I don’t know who I was trying to kid, but I certainly played myself in the process. My hatred of summer is something I’ve typically seen as a personal failing: I don’t like being too warm, the grass and trees are trying to murder me (ask my allergist!), I sunburn easily and heat rash even easier. Humidity makes my hair big but also flat, and I’ve never mastered the art of being someone who looks chic when she’s sweating. (I am a potato person with a tomato face.) Plus, there’s the FOMO: every day I spend inside doing work I’m supposed to be doing I feel like I’m wasting the best weeks of my life. Everybody’s at the cottage! People are travelling! For some reason, everyone has a pool! My Instagram grid is a collection of screencaps and cat photos. Am I doing it wrong? (Probably!) Am I not fun?
I mean, I’m not fun. But worse still is the knowledge that in my marrow, I hate almost all summertime activities outside of my traditional not-fun-ness. I don’t like cottages, and I will never go camping. My left arm gets sunburned after driving with the window rolled down. The other day, I had to apply ice to my pulse points after mowing the front lawn at 8:30 in the morning. All I want is to congregate indoors with people I like and eat food that will justify my bedtime of roughly 10 pm. I like structure, and the summer has none. I need the routine of September to June; I rely on the ghost of my elementary school day-to-day to give me a sense of purpose. I saw somebody tweet recently that none of us actually like the summer, we’ve just been conditioned from childhood to look forward to it because we didn’t have to do as much.
Plus, as kids, I don’t think any of us cared about the way we looked when we were sweaty or what we were wearing when we were running around. Summer was fun because we didn’t think about anything, really. Every time I think about making this summer one for the books, I feel further away from achieving that goal.
So maybe that’s the key: as a kid, I hated hot weather, and that trait hasn’t changed. But instead of contorting myself to fit the vibe I tell myself is essential for seasonal happiness, this year I’m choosing to take my own hints and simply accept that I am a woman of the bog. I like having the option of putting a sweater on. I like not breathing through my mouth because nature is attempting to end my life. I like not sweating after walking from my parked car to the grocery store. I like not having heat exhaustion. I like the comfort of a school-centric schedule and feeling like a perpetual Mr. Autumn Man. I like structure and I hate cottages.
Hence, I give up. If I happen to look cute for a minute this summer, I can promise you it was a mistake. Today I put an outfit together that wasn’t the worst, but tomorrow I plan to seek refuge in anything that makes me feel less like I’m being smothered by a wet shower curtain. Soon it will be September, and I will pretend to be surprised when these egregious temperatures continue and I feel betrayed by my own naivety. But I’ll wear those pajama pant shorts when I get to it.
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